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Apprenticeship scheme is failing

22 January, 2008

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Martina Anderson has said that there are serious concerns about the Department of Employment and Learning's 'Training for Success' apprenticeship training programme and the decreasing number of apprenticeships in manufacturing industries.

She also highlighted regional disparities with not enough training available West of the Bann. In 2005/06 320 electrical trainees were trained across the North but just four in Derry.

Ms Anderson said:

"I share concerns about the decreasing number of apprenticeships in the North's manufacturing industries and have deep-rooted concerns about the department's entire Training for Success apprenticeship training programme.

"Last week I tabled a debate on apprentice training in Foyle - particularly the privatisation of apprentice training schemes and the fact that many of them have been centralised in the greater Belfast area.

"The decreasing numbers of apprenticeships is a matter of the concern, especially as the figures clearly indicate a disproportionality between East and West. For instance of the 320 electrical trainees trained across the North in 05/06, there were just four in Derry.

"In a word this highlights continuing inequality, disadvantaging the people of the North West. This goes to the heart of inequality which the Investment Strategy must address.

"Yesterday many people came from Derry to bring these facts - this injustice, this inequality, to Stormont. Apprenticeships go to the heart, determining and I quote, how we are 'to use prosperity to tackle disadvantage and build an inclusive, stable society'.

"Without work in Trades and without the self respect which paid employment gives people, it is not possible to address disadvantage, exclusion, or a divided society - which we are trying to change. If you have been historically excluded from society, left unemployed and untrained, you do not and will not, share the aspirations of our Programme for Government, and cannot, and will not, engage with them.

"Why have we failed? The answer is obvious. We have left it all to chance, and to incentives - to the market place. It cannot just be left to market incentives, to business to make apprenticeships attractive to employers. Reg Empey has to take full responsibility to advance hands on the apprenticeship training.

"The Executive must also set conditions on procurement, to ensure that contracts are grounded in ending historical regional disparities and inequalities and displaying a social return on investment. This includes delivering on apprenticeships." ENDS

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